Wednesday, 30 June 2021

2021 Year end blog!


It’s yearly blog is back (formally a monthly blog, but my two readers demanded much less). 

Well we did it, 181 student days, 194 teacher days and no one in this building tested positive for COVID. Wooo Hooo! 

I am so grateful that our staff, students and parents really got behind our approach and supported what we were doing. When I think back to the start of the year, it seems like a lifetime ago. As a staff, we spent days planning and worrying about how to make the school a safe environment. We were concerned how students and parents would adapt to all the changes and new rules and regulations. It turned out that all of our worrying was for not!  For the most part, students adjusted to the various mask rules with very little fuss, and everyone took to the washing hands rule, because no one wanted to admit that they hadn’t been washing their hands after going to the washroom before the pandemic.


Our masking rules changed a lot throughout the year, as did our rules for extra-curricular activities, and through it all our students just adapted. It really was a miracle, because prior to the pandemic our students were not good with change. At the start of the 2020 school year we thought about serving Bacon and Eggers to the students instead of pancakes at the welcome back breakfast, and we nearly had a full-fledged riot.

I have to say thank you to our staff for deciding early on that we would talk to students about mask use and following health and safety protocols rather than using discipline to enforce the rules. I think this made everyone’s life easier and allowed our students to know that we were all in this process together, and we were all going to forget things from time to time. 

I have to thank our students for following the rules (for the most part). I also want to applaud them because they had to give up a lot of activities that make school fun, like sports, clubs and activities, but they persevered and they always made the best of every situation. 

Thank you to the parents who kept their children home when they were not feeling well, and those parents who took their kids for multiple tests. Thank you for realizing that keeping our school population healthy and safe was of the utmost importance. 

Thank you to our grade 12 students: Trace, Quinn, Anna, Melody, Nic and Abbie. You guys made it through the year. Your grad was amazing, even though it wasn’t quite what you expected. I hope you all find your passions in life and that you learn to value the present, because you never know what the future will bring. I know each of you will be successful, so good luck in the future. Remember you can always come back and visit, but if COVID is around, please phone ahead, then sign in and put on a mask! 

I look forward to having some normality back in the fall, and hopefully we can offer sports, different clubs, different activities and we can finally have parents back in the building. Have a safe and great summer, see everyone in the fall, and go Riders! 

Thursday, 19 March 2020

Confusing times at Bjorkdale High

Hi everyone, I have been a little lazy with my school blog this year (big apology to my two readers), but I thought I would take a few minutes to write down some of my thoughts on the current situation and other topics.

A few weeks ago I was a person that couldn’t be convinced that COVID-19 was a big issue. It took a lot of people to help change my mind. Thank you to co-workers, friends and family who all helped to persuade me to start taking this seriously. My initial thoughts were that we live in such a small, remote community that nothing was going to happen here, and that I was young enough that it wouldn’t affect me. I feel foolish, but the reality is that I was being selfish. I was only thinking of myself; I wasn’t thinking of elderly community members, staff and students who may be immune compromised or even my own children. That’s a terrible thing to write, but it is the truth. Once I started to read the news and listen to what the doctors and scientists were saying I started to become really alarmed. So please don’t be stubborn like me, isolate yourself and your family, and take this threat seriously. The decision to close the schools was done as a measure to help stop the spread of the virus, so please do not be arranging sleep-overs, play dates, parties, etc. Stay home and spend some probably much needed time with the family.

Monday, was the strangest, and one of the most difficult days in my education career. I’m still not sure it has entirely set in yet. Most of us spent the day walking around in what seemed like a fog. The reality is that all of us got into this business because we like teaching kids and being around students on a daily basis. The best part of each and every day is interacting with students, laughing and joking with one another and being there as they reach milestones and become life-long learners. So the prospect of doing this job without students in the building definitely shook some of us. The good news is that we have been working with our students about being independent learners, and now they will have the opportunity to use their skills outside of school. I know everyone is anxious to get material so students can work from home, but you will have to be patient. Currently, the School Division and the government are working hard to figure out what learning will look like for the next few months.

To our two Grade twelve students, Hunter Woulfe and Mackenzie Berger, I know this is not how you envisioned your last year at our school ending. It’s unfortunate that we are not able to honour you at this time, but rest assured we will do something when school returns. I just want to thank-you both for your time at our school. Thank you for the laughter, the stories, and joy that brought to our school. You will be missed, but I cannot wait to see what the future holds for both of you. I hope you continue to be life-long learners, and I wish you all the best in the future.
Thank you to the staff of the school. Each and every one of you do an amazing job and the way you have all come together to deal with this evolving situation is inspiring. We are lucky to have such a great staff at our school.
Please take care everyone!

Friday, 28 June 2019

Year end wrap up!

Hi everyone, it’s the last post of the year so I just want to take some time to look back at an amazing school year. 

I may be a little bit biased, but we have the best students in the world. Yes, they make plenty of mistakes, but their compassion, humour and energy make every day in this building enjoyable. One of the best things about being a teacher is that you get to be around young people and you get to see their growth from day to day. I know for myself, it gives me energy and I look forward to seeing each and everyone of them on a daily basis. I hope you all have a wonderful summer vacation. Make sure to read, write, play, spend time outdoors and visit with friends and family. We cannot wait to see you next fall!

I also want to take a moment to thank our amazing staff. It is amazing to be around a group of people that are so dedicated to their profession. Our students are very lucky, and I know even though they would never say it, they are thankful for everything you do, and every opportunity that you provide. Our students went on more field trips and had so many new learning experiences because our staff is always searching for new and creative ways to engage our students in learning. 
It's also important to remember that Helen, Sherman, Barry and Kristine are not in this photo, but they are equally as important to the success of our school. 

We finally put our plaque on our memorial bench for Janessa Pauls. The bench used to be located at the back of the school, but it has been moved to the front, so that more people will use it. Janessa was a wonderful person, who brightened up our school every day. She loved to be around friends, and there is probably no more fitting of tribute to her memory than people sitting on the bench laughing and joking with one another. 

Bandit Year End Awards:
Thanks to everyone who attended our awards night. As a staff we are aware that the night can be quite long, but we do think it is very important that we have an evening in which we can celebrate our students' achievements. I have to give a big thank you to Sherry for organizing this entire event. I think in September we decided that Sherry and I would plan the awards night, which turned out to be just Sherry planning the evening. Thank you for doing that, it is greatly appreciated. 

I guess I will wrap up my blog for the year. I hope everyone has a great summer. I am very excited to be trying our new flexible learning in Jr./Sr. high next year. It will be a very challenging year, but I think it will all be worth it. 

I look forward to seeing you all in the fall. Now it's time for me to slip off to Paris for a few days! (Big thanks to my wife, for looking after our three kids while I am away!) 

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Easter Break!

I have to make a confession, much like the rest of you, I also forgot that I wrote a blog for the school. So this is actually my first blog post since December. I sincerely hope that I did not disappoint my three readers, with such a long hiatus.

When we return from break there will only be 41 student school days remaining. This means the students in Sr. High are going to have work really hard to ensure they complete everything to earn their credits. With Easter this late in the year, it will seem like the next two months will fly by, so it is really important that everyone comes to school each day, ready to learn.

This year as a staff we have done a lot of work redoing our school mission statement. We had many meetings and discussions about the skills we would like every student to develop while they are in our building.

Bjorkdale School Mission Statement: Growing independent, dynamic, diverse, young learners up to their potential.
We recognize that this is quite a mouthful, so we also came up with a mantra that could be easily repeated and would help drive the learning process in our school.
Our new mantra: GIDDY-UP.

Not only is this an acronym for our mission statement, but it fits well with our current school mascot and we think it encapsulates the concept of resilience that we want each of our students to develop. You will be seeing new signage appear inside the school over the next few months.

If you have a student in middle years or high-school, you may be aware that next year we are changing the way we deliver education. Our new model is called Flexible Learning. This means that our schedule is going to be more fluid and allow students to have choice about the subjects they are learning about each day. One of our main goals next year is to drastically improve our student’s independence and resilience. While we feel that we have many strong learners, we also understand that learning does not stop once you leave school and in order to continue that development you have to be self-motivated, and also able to adapt and bounce back if you are not initially successful.

The junior high students will also be working on cross-curricular learning. This means that we will be focusing on our core subjects: Math, ELA, Science, Social and incorporating the other course outcomes (Health, Art, PAA etc) into those core subject areas. This should provide the students with more meaningful studies.
If you are wondering why we are making these changes, it is very simple… we believe that this will benefit our students in the long term. We do not want compliant learners, we want independent learners who are driven by their own thirst for knowledge. We also know that our staffing numbers fluctuate and this new system will allow us to adapt to changes in staffing without affecting the quality of education that we provide to our students.

Below is the image of the schedule that we will be offering next year. If anyone has any comments or concerns about this schedule please contact me at the school.

I have also attached a video that I uploaded last year about changing educational paradigms by Sir Ken Robinson which I think helps us look at education differently.

The Bjorkdale Staff would like to wish you all a wonderful Easter Break, and I hope that everyone is able to relax and spend a little time with family and friends before the hectic time of the year begins.

Friday, 21 December 2018

Happy Holidays

Season’s greetings from the staff and students at Bjorkdale School. It’s hard to believe that it is Christmas time already. December has been a very busy time in our school. The SRC put on a lot of great events this month. Students participated in a variety of activities from riddle solving, and door decorating, to Christmas Just Dance parties. It was a big success and hopefully it becomes a Bjorkdale School Christmas tradition.

Speaking of great school traditions, this week we held our annual School Bonspiel and it was a huge success. It is always great to see our students from all ages working together and cheering one another on. I want to thank Leta, Andrea and Sherry for all of their work in the kitchen. The meals were excellent and it made the event even more enjoyable. Thank you to Marty and Eldon for organizing the draw and making sure the ice was clean and in perfect condition. It is a good reminder that parent and community volunteers are crucial to our success as a school.

I need to give a big shout out to Rhett Hegland, a student in Grade 7. Rhett was picking a prize from the curling bonspiel and decided that rather than keeping the prize for himself he would donate it to a younger student instead. It was an act of great generosity and selflessness. Rhett is an amazing student, he is always willing to volunteer, and it is so nice to know that we can always rely on Rhett whenever we need help. Keep up the great work Rhett, you are turning into a great leader in our school. We are all very proud of you!

Helen and Sherman Babcock have the most thankless jobs in our building. On Wednesday, Helen had to come to the school early in the afternoon to clean up sewer water that was backing up out of the toilets. This was a very unpleasant job, yet Helen did it with a smile on her face. Helen and Sherman always keep our school looking good and running smoothly. A lot of times their work goes unnoticed, even though they are spending countless hours washing floors, cleaning toilets, clearing snow etc. If you see Helen or Sherman over the holidays make sure to express your gratitude for everything they do.  Our school would not be the same place without them.

The Christmas Concert took place on Thursday and it was fantastic. The playschool kids participated well and sang their hearts out. The kindergarten to grade six students put on a masterful rendition of The Grinch that Stole Christmas, and the junior and senior high students dazzled us with their humorous interpretation of the First Christmas. Thank you to Ms. Delorme, Ms. Currey, Ms. Vecchio and Mrs. Mohr for all of the hours they spent practicing their plays and creating props. The results were well worth it. The students were wonderfully prepared and the show was enjoyed by all.

I hope everyone enjoys the break. This is an important time for students and teachers to recharge their batteries. January can be a very stressful month, especially if you are in high school, so make sure to get as much rest as you can. Have a great break and see you in 2019!

Friday, 9 November 2018

Today we had our Remembrance Ceremony at the hall (last minute change of venue). It was a great success! Trace and Anna were the MC's and did a fantastic job, and our entire student body worked together to make the ceremony went off without a hitch. We even added a new tradition of laying a wreath at the Cenotaph in Memorial Park. Thank you to everyone who helped and participated. Hopefully everyone will take a moment on Sunday to think about the sacrifices that the men and women in our country have made and are still making every day to ensure we have our freedom. Thank you.

Thursday, 27 September 2018

Welcome Back!

I’m a little late to update my blog, but now that school is back into the swing of things I would like to officially welcome everyone back for another exciting school year. I hope that everyone had a wonderful summer and that you are all surviving this awful fall weather that we are having.

This year our school is focusing on several initiatives to help our student’s become more resilient. Mrs. Mohr is in the process of teaching the middle years and high school students about the Circle of Courage. The Circle of Courage is based off the work of Dr. Martin Brokenleg. Dr. Brokenleg believes that we need to teach our children the skills of mastery, belonging, generosity and independence in order for them to become highly successful, resilient, life-long learners. I think his message is very important and it has really made me think about the way we approach education. A lot of times the focus is on student academic achievement, but the Circle of Courage points out that it is our job to make well-rounded students who can be successful in all aspects of their life.

This year we have changed our Student Representative Council so that all students, grades 7-12 are on the SRC. So far the students have been very willing participants and we have some great ideas for this year. The SRC came up with a new mission statement: “Creating positivity that brings everyone together and to provide opportunity.” This will be the SRC focus for the year and we are very excited about it. The SRC will be doing different fundraisers throughout the year and all of the money will be going towards purchasing athletic uniforms for our sporting clubs and towards purchasing various musical instruments that can be used by the students.

The SRC will be hosting the annual Terry Fox run on Friday, Sept 28th at 1:00 pm. This event is open to the community and we would love to see people come out and support a great cause. Students have pledge sheets and should be canvasing around town.

The 28th is also Orange Shirt Day which is a day to bring awareness to the survivors of the Residential School System in Canada. Please wear your best orange gear and join us on Friday for both Orange Shirt Day and the Terry Fox Run.

There was exciting news out of the province this week that more than 75% of students across Saskatchewan are now reading at or above grade level. We still have a long ways to go, but this is substantial progress from where we once were.  Star-Phoenix news article_Reading

The PAA 7-9 class is currently taking Food Studies (Home Ec. for people over the age of 30), and they have committed to cooking all the food for harvest dinner this year. This is a major undertaking, but I know all of the students are up for the challenge.

I would like welcome all of our new Kindergarten students to the school this year. We are excited to have Nora Horn, Madisyn Johnson, and Giuliana Vecchio joining our family. I would also like to welcome Aubree Johnson (Grade 2), Daniellyn Johnson (Grade 5) back to our school.

Geoff Goldsworthy